141. Zulal: The Interview. ‘Part 2’ DPChallenge

Zulal A Cappella trio

Zulal A Cappella trio

1- Zulal

Teni’s love for a cappella began at Carnegie Mellon where she sang in the school’s Jazz Choir and earned a Masters in Arts Management. Her love for Armenian folk music truly unfolded on her first trip to Armenia in 2000, one that eventually led her to the members of Zulal in a most circuitous way. Zulal has brought life and breath to Teni’s foremost passion and she considers herself lucky to share this creative process with two friends who are now much more like sisters.

Anaïs studied theater at Yale University, where she sang with and directed the Yale Slavic Chorus. Originally from San Francisco, Anaïs now lives in New York, performing in plays and films in and around the city. Her original play, Tangled Yarn, (with soundtrack by Zulal), and her second piece, Waterlogged, both premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2010 and 2011. She is thrilled to be exploring the musical heritage of her ancestors with Zulal.

Yeraz was first introduced to a cappella at Barnard College at Columbia University where she began singing as a “bass”. A native New Yorker, she has a background in marketing and a PhD in clinical psychology. Yeraz is proud to take part in rediscovering Armenian folk music, and is overjoyed that what began as an innocent conversation among friends has led to the creation of Zulal.

2- Why did you choose to sing a cappella?

We chose to sing a cappella because it was something we were familiar with; we had all sung different a cappella genres in college. But we also loved the purity of three voices and the challenge that it posed to create as much richness in the music as possible, solely with the use of our three sets of vocal cords.

3- Tell us about your performance at the Getty in Los Angeles.

Our performance at the Gordon Getty Concert Series at the Getty Museum in LA last year was created to complement their exhibition of Medieval Gospel Illuminations. We entitled our show “Marvelous to Behold” and in it explored the idea of the sacred, through both Armenian folk songs and Armenian medieval hymns. “What is sacred?” has opened many creative doors for us as a trio and we continue to explore this idea both musically and otherwise.

4- Tell us about your families.

Anaïs and her husband, both in the arts, are raising their two daughters in Manhattan. The older one, 7, wants to be a singer-artist-dancer… The apple does not fall far from the tree. The younger one is six months, a little octopus who wants to taste everything within reach.

Teni and her family left an NYC apartment a few years ago to answer the call of roaming deer and suburban niceties in New Jersey. Her three children often request that she stop singing because they have something to say or sing that demands attention. Zulal has been a variable in their lives from the beginning and although it hasn’t always been easy juggling sick days for children with rehearsals and the like, music and Zulal specifically has always been a source of enchantment in their lives.

Yeraz and her husband, who is an accomplished musician and producer, live in the NY tri-state area with their two children, who often ask to hear Zulal music and sing along to most rehearsal files. The younger one, age 3, loves to dance and sing during much of the day. The older one, age 5, plays ukulele and takes pride in being able to tune it properly, singing “my dog has fleas!”

5- Do you have different parenting styles?

We all have slightly different parenting styles, in accordance with our disparate personalities, but in the end we all raise our children with similar values. We all strive for compassion and respect in our parenting and take a certain pleasure in the inquisitiveness innate to our children. We recognize that we are studded with faulty moments, much like our children are. We ask our children to always try their very best and that is what we do, hoping that in the moments that we falter, our babes will forgive us as we have forgiven them their tantrums and impulsive curiosities. It’s fun to watch the children evolve so beautifully, all 7 of them, all raised in part on the sound of our three voices. (Anaïs’s babe is only calmed in her absence by Zulal recordings. We are working hard to get out the third album before she gets sick of the first two.)

6- How do you manage: recording, performing and raising a family?

It’s tough managing our careers and raising children. With help from family, or babysitters, or our partners’ time flexibility, we manage. With all our help, there’s still plenty of baby cooing and toddler chatter in the background of our rehearsal recordings. We have always managed to persevere as a trio through changes and 7 births. It is a testament to how much we all love working with each other but also to the power of a group dynamic. I am sure that any one of us alone may have found ourselves farther away from song due to the circumstances and demands of life, but the fact that we work in part for each other in addition to ourselves makes us more efficient and more accountable. Belonging to the world in addition to your children is important for a mother, but it’s not a division that children always favor.


7- Do you draw inspiration from your children?

Motherhood is inspiring because the love it represents is easily poured into the songs, so many of which are about nature and traditions and all the beautiful things we hope to pass on to our children. Motherhood is also inspiring because it makes you a million times more efficient than you were before, because if you can’t manage to fit a zillion things into the tiny moments the children allow you, you don’t get anything done. We’ve become more efficient as a group in the last few years, even while our time is more limited. Having children also stretches you emotionally; it’s like falling in love for the first time, but on an endless loop. That is such lush fodder for the creative spirit, which longs to roll around in those extreme emotions, which often demand to be expressed.

8- Your future plans?

Our future plans involve more recording, more touring, more exploration of the possibilities of our voices and the richness of the musical heritage we’ve chosen to devote much of our lives to.

9- What is your advice to other moms?

We would advise other mothers to make sure they never ignore their own needs, especially the need for self-expression. Children, while sometimes feeling annoyed at having to let their mothers take off and away from them on occasion, are inspired by seeing their mothers so passionate about something apart from mothering. Recognize that you as mother and person are one and the same, and that tending to your wellbeing, in whatever form that may take, is of special importance as it trickles down to all those who depend on you.

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5 thoughts on “141. Zulal: The Interview. ‘Part 2’ DPChallenge

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